Test: Hi Spec slurry tanker 2500
For those of you looking for an entry-level farm tanker that won’t break the bank, read on as Brent Lilley may have found the ideal machine.
Avid Farm Trader readers will remember a couple months ago I checked out a fairly large top-of-the range slurry tanker loaded with all the options and was probably one of the best bits of machinery I've seen this year. But along with all these extras came a fairly hefty price tag that would probably put it out of reach to all but some larger contractors. This month's machine has less of the bells and whistles but a much more appealing price tag.
The Hi Spec 2500 vacuum tanker, supplied by Matamata Ag Centre, has a capacity of 10,000 litres and is a simple setup, including a chassis with a tank, a PTO-driven pump and a splashplate for spreading.
Now, playing in slurry for the day isn't really my idea of fun but an opportunity to see one in action was too good to turn down, so I headed over to Matamata on a brilliant spring day, to a goat farm where the tanker was hitched up to a 90hp Valtra. This was spreading the runoff from the goat sheds on to one of the many paddocks on the farm that are used for cut-and-carry feeding the goats.
As with all the tanks on the vacuum tankers in the Hi Spec range, this one is manufactured using high quality 6mm steel and incorporates internal implosion rings to prevent damage occurring. The tanks are mounted on a hefty box section chassis, which is a key advantage over some other tankers where the axle and drawbar are mounted directly to the bottom of the tank, placing unnecessary stress on it. Cut outs in the sides of the tank for the wheels keep the centre of gravity low and the width within reason.
At the front of the chassis is a sprung drawbar as standard, using two heavy-duty springs to take all the shock transferred between the tanker and the tractor. This improves the comfort of the operator so it's great for on-farm work up and down races.
The finish on any tanker is fairly important, given the corrosive nature of the material they spend their lives handling, and the Hi Spec range has two options available here — as standard, two coats of paint are applied, consisting of an anti-corrosive primer and an enamel top coat to give a smart-looking, long lasting-finish, and optional is a galvanised version.
Tyres are another fairly important choice on any tanker, given you're going to be out in your paddocks in sometimes less-than-favourable conditions. As with most tankers there are more tyre options than I care to list here, but the 30.5 R32 tractor tread tyres on this tanker are a good place to start to limit compaction. A lack of mudguards on this tanker, with wide tyres that stick out the side, would be an annoyance for anyone who likes to keep their machinery clean, but I'm told they do normally come standard. Being a European-built tanker means you get hydraulic drum brakes on a commercial axle to give peace of mind when you need to stop the tanker in a hurry or are working on hills.
Mounted on the drawbar is a PTO-driven Jurop pump that is run at 540rpm and is a tanker's workhorse. To load the tank, a six-inch filler hose from the pond or storage is connected to a quick-attach hose fitting on the back of the tanker. Handy hooks down the side of the tank provide storage for the suction hose when not in use. When the pump on the front is run, it pumps the air out of the tank, creating a vacuum and drawing the slurry into the tanker. A large, easy-to-see sight glass on the front of the tank allows the operator to see the level inside the tank. One minor draw back here for me was the fact the pump seemed to be rather noisy when loading.
In practice, the tanker was relatively easy to fill. When the tank is full, all the operator needs to do is turn the PTO off and shut the gate valve on the back of the tanker. A good tip here is to wait a few moments for the liquid in the hose to run back into the pond before disconnecting the filler hose so you don't get covered. Personally, I would be inclined to fit an auto-fill arm to make it possible to fill the machine without leaving the cab if the tractor.
Unloading and spreading the liquid in the tank is equally simple. A lever on top of the pump needs to be shifted manually to change the pump from suck to blow. When the PTO is run it will pressurise the tank to force the liquid out.
A hydraulically-operated gate valve on the outlet at the back makes it easy to get the liquid where it's required. At the back of the tanker a large rubber cone-shaped outlet is used to direct the liquid against a steel splashplate to spread it out in an arc, either side of the back of the tanker. This is a simple-yet-effective way of spreading with around 20 metres of coverage on each pass, and no worries about blocked hoses.
The outlet at the back is incorporated into a manhole-size hatch, although I'm not too sure how many volunteers you're going to find to climb in to a slurry tank should the need ever arise.
What is Hi Spec?
Until recently I knew very little about the Hi Spec brand. With a little sleuthing I found it is an engineering company based in County Carlow, Ireland, and it has built a solid reputation as a manufacturer of high quality machinery for over twenty-five years. The company focuses on manufacturing machinery for the agricultural and industrial sectors, including vacuum tankers, diet feeders, and manure spreaders. Hi Spec New Zealand, based in Geraldine, imports the tankers into New Zealand and Matamata Ag Centre is the distribution agent, backing up sales with excellent parts and service.
The Hi Spec 2500 slurry tanker is a very basic vacuum tanker with very few options fitted to it, but I believe it definitely has a place in New Zealand's agricultural industry and will suit farmers wanting to own a tanker for the flexibility of being able to spread their own effluent without incurring massive set-up costs. If, however, you can justify a few extras, Hi Spec certainly has that covered too — there is a massive range of options, including loading arms, macerators, rear linkages, dribble bars, disc injectors and rain guns. Overall all, this is a well-designed and well-built tanker. This machine is very simple to operate and the high quality will stand up to the harsh realities of spreading slurry.
For more information contact Denis Madigan, Hi Spec NZ, 027 479 7299, Denis@woodleys.co.nz.
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